|One Step 4ward
||[Apr. 11th, 2008|09:59 pm]
Today was quite interesting for a change. I went to Channel 4 for a day of assessment after applying for a new media design assistant placement as part of 4talent. The three month job would involve assisting the design team in web projects, taking on a complete design project of my own and spending a week at a different design agency working with the channel in order to gain industry experience and technical skills. In addition there would be training seminars and involvment with other departments making it a lot better than regular placements plus pay to the equivalent of 15k a year. It’s aimed at those who already have skills in the Adobe Creative Suite and HTML as well as prior design training and experience creating for the web, so it all seems pretty relevant to my position. Two people who did it last year now work for the channel full time so it may also have good future prospect.
Taking a rare opportunity to boast, there were hundreds of applications for the role and these were narrowed down to six people including myself who took part in the assessment. Interestingly everyone seemed to be in a similar position, having graduated a year or two ago from a Multimedia or Graphic Design degree, but still floating around doing short term stints with no long term employment. I was reading the other day that over 1/5th of graduates go through this kind of thing, and they are more likely to be clinically depressed than people with unfulfilling careers who didn’t go to University. Makes sense really. A donkey that has never seen a carrot is likely to be happier than a donkey that had one and then lost it. I miss the carrot.
All that said, the competition was clearly of high calibre and there were no dud candidates. This concerned me slightly as I recall a poker theory stating that, “If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker”. I think though that we were all evenly matched (based on absolutely no knowledge of their technical or creative skill), so it seemed like our performance in the assessment activities would have a genuine impact.
The Channel 4 building itself was pretty cool; certainly different to the buildings I usually frequent. Almost every room and hallway is formed from glass and steel, like a slick futuristic world of some kind …though I never felt I was in the future, or indeed slick.
Getting back to the point, the first activity of the day was the most interesting. As a group we were given the synopsis for a fictional film about an alien invasion on a South London estate and we had to come up with a website concept to market it. This was then pitched to Channel 4 staff from film4 and new media, as well as a group of applicants who were undergoing similar assessment for a film4 placement. Memories of Leon Cruickshank workshops came to mind, but it was enjoyable and I didn’t humiliate myself, so I consider it a success.
After the presentations everyone mingled over several platters of free food, most of which I couldn’t identify, and I then went for a standard two on one interview. It was however more interesting than usual because they asked me about my favourite C4 shows, which provided me with the rare opportunity to spill my fanboy guts over The Sopranos and Peep Show in a context that wasn’t entirely meaningless. I went on to criticize Hollyoaks afterwards, which doesn’t seem like a wise thing in reflection, but one interviewer seemed to share my opinions and I did admit to watching it which should count as some form of appreciation. I also ended up talking about that guy who had a huge tumour for a face. Exactly the kind of thing dynamic media types should be talking about.
The final activity of the day was a series of three writing tests. The first presented a Channel 4 job description full of spelling and grammar errors, which we were asked to identify and correct. What a bitch I thought, surely they know computers can solve such problems in this age of whizzing data and hyperactive megachips. The other two questions were more predictable; one asked about how we would spend our time during quiet work hours and the other wanted three interactive feature ideas for the Hollyoaks website. Had I not been a regular viewer of Hollyoaks I think this question would have screwed me, so I guess this makes me one of very few people whose soap addiction has actually had a constructive impact.
The day ended with the C4 people explaining that five of us were going to fail, and I think my chances depend on how badly the other candidate’s interviews went. I will be lucky to get the position, but even if I don't get it they said they would provide complete feedback on my performance so I should learn something. The strange thing is that I never felt any sense of competition with these people and was sincere in wishing them luck. Perhaps because I’m a really awesome human being who puts the needs of strangers above his own, but I fear not. Just a result of the curious situation we were put in I expect.
At the end they gave everyone a goody bag, which was obviously the most exciting part of the day. My bag contained many wonderful products including:
- A fancy embossed and well printed book about 4Talent
- A less impressive brochure I already had about 4Talent
- A 4talent ballpoint pent
- A tin of jelly belly sweets
- A 2gig 4Talent flash drive
- The Deal or no Deal Family challenge interactive DVD
It would have been nice if they had surprised us with customised bags, relevant to the shows we said we enjoyed during the interview, but I suppose you can only ask for so much. I regretfully know that I will never open that Deal or no Deal box and will therefore completely waste the free gift. Anyway I will find out within the week whether or not I got the job and if I don’t you will probably never hear anything further about it, nor should you ever comment on my failure to succeed. In conclusion, assessment centres are no way near as dull as regular interviews, but the ambiguity is concerning and at least you know what to expect with companies who don’t go to so much trouble.
My Apologies to those who found this post self-indulgent, but I can assure you it was written for the benefit of your own general interest.